Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Female couple expelled from Mayoral candidate's church for "disruption"

The Rev. Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum, Jr. has some explaining to do.

Two women reported a disturbing story to me about their visit to last Sunday's morning worship service at New Olivet Baptist Church in Memphis that was also reported in this morning's Commercial Appeal. Yas Meen and Monique Stevens, a couple, decided to visit New Olivet to learn more about Whalum. Yas, a retired school teacher, admired Whalum’s passionate support for public education and considered supporting his candidacy for Memphis Mayor. Whalum currently serves on the Memphis City Schools’ Board of Education.

Yas and Monique visited New Olivet for the first time. They had heard that people are encouraged to “come-as-you-are” to the church. Many people wear casual clothes to worship there. On this particular morning, they observed several young men wearing basketball jerseys. Yas wore a dress while Monique wore a pair of slacks to the service that morning - dressier than many in the congregation. However, Yas and Monique felt a little uncomfortable when they entered and sat in the front pew after the service had started. They began to notice looks of disapproval from members of the congregation. The reason would become all too clear to them.

As the service progressed, Pastor Whalum called on the congregation to participate in expressions of “sanctified dance.” Congregants followed Whalum’s lead and began to fill the aisle. Some danced while other lay on the floor in prayer. As visitors, the style of worship was new to Yas and Monique, so they decided to remain seated and observe.

That’s when events turned for the worse. From the front of the church, the two women alleged that Whalum said “this is my house and everybody does what I say. But two people won’t do what I say.” After Whalum’s plea, Yas and Monique remained seated. When Monique extended her arm along the pew behind Yas, the congregation’s focus on the couple intensified.

Yas described what happened next:

[A] security guard asked us to leave because we were disturbing God's House. I asked what had we done to disturb God's House. He could not give me an answer. He just said you two need to leave. He informed us that he had called the police. I told him because I did not clearly understand what was going on, we will just wait for the police. That's when the herd of men gathered around to physically remove us from God's House! While this was going on, the church's photographer was taking pictures of Monique and I. We begged them to stop taking pictures of us. She continued and when she finished, she blew us a kiss and said God Bless You!
Under the watchful eyes of Pastor Whalum, children taunted the two ladies and women began to throw oil on them. A group of men gathered around them, calling them “bitches”, “Satanic,” and “devil worshipers.” They were told that they were dishonoring God’s House. Finally, a group of 25 young men began physically and violently pushing the two ladies out of the church. Monique’s glasses were broken and both suffered scratches and bruises.

During the incident, the church called the police because Yas and Monique had been “disruptive.” Yaz:

found it so strange how the security guard could not give us the reason, when the situation happened, of how we were disruptive until the police asked him, which was almost 45 minutes to an hour after the event. That's when he told us along with the police, that it was because Monique had extended her arm along the back of the pew seat right next to [me].

Yas and Monique may file assault charges against members of the church who put hands on them.

As this violent crime unfolded, Pastor Whalum said nothing and did nothing to intervene. As someone who wants to be the next Mayor of Memphis, Pastor Whalum has some explaining to do. Does Whalum condone violence toward gays and lesbians? Will he condone such behavior toward gays and lesbians among citizens and employees of the City Memphis? If this is how Whalum treats potential supporters, how will he treat his opponents? Is this the kind of leadership Memphis can expect from him as a Mayor?


Nancy VanReece said...

Wow. This so disturbing.

YourMarketPro - Shane Burkett said...

The New Olivet Baptist Church is a church of compassion and refuge, reaching out to a lost and hurting world that needs salvation and purpose. The Lord has given Pastor Whalum an exhaustive vision for the New Olivet Church Family. It is one that is designed to minister to the needs of the total man - spiritually, physically, educationally and socially.

Come and worship with us. Your life will never ever be the same. The New Olivet Baptist Church is where the word is preached "straight, uncut, no chaser."

YourMarketPro - Shane Burkett said...

WOW - they should review the verbiage on their web site!

John Christopher said...

The lesbian couple was overly & outwardly affectionate in the middle of church during services. The were asked to refrain from such activities. THEY REFUSED! Then started cursing out loud.


Whalum had a responsibility.

Jonathan in Memphis said...

What do you mean John? Were you there? "Overly & outwardly affectionate" is a very subjective description. What specific behavior are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

These chicks had no purpose @ the church besides trying to set up Dr. Whalum. They have been to the church before. One of them left the church saying "...everytime I come here..." meaning she cant get her lies together. How long did it take you to make this lie up, sweetie? Whalum could care less about your sexual orientation. He is supportive of the gay community. But fools like these women give the community a bad name.

And if they were agnostic, why would you come to church to learn about a mayoral candidate? Would it not make sense to listen to the news or read his bio online. Again, get your lie together.

Nobody called them out their name. I was there and saw the whole thing. 1 chick answered her phone! You dont do that in church. There is a time and place for everything. The other chick that was in a dress, punched one of our men. Our men were just standing around them, didnt touch them or anything. They were just standing there protecting the members around the chaos.

Im glad they got put out. Their plan backfired and now they look like fools. They were being loud, and disruptive. They were the ones that were cursing during the service. There were children around them, but the children and others sitting around them moved once they started being disruptive.

Get A Life Boo!

flipp96 said...

Ok fellow GLBT community please do not believe everything that you read in the newspapers....There are two sides to every story please believe me when I tell you this couple is full of it...While I have no personal dealings with Rev. Whalum I am dear friends with members of his church....Now in no way form or fashion am I for discrimation of any kind or taking sides on this matter.....But I have had dealings with Yas Meen (which by the way is not her real name only an alias)and she is a real butthole....I can believe from my personal dealings with her that she and her girlfriend reacted negatively when asked to leave...They were in a house of worship and they cannot disrupt service in the manner they did....When asked to leave for whatever reason they should have left quietly and from there notified the media of the event...I truly believe in my heart of hearts they went there looking for trouble...Yas Meen is an arrogant, selfish, young woman that does not understand the dynamics of life.....She thinks everything centers around her and if she does not get what she wants she goes crazy.....What is there to say about a woman’s character when you have a husband and child at home (that you home school)and you out flaunting a lesbian lifestyle that you are not totally true to (that is the reason for not showing your face on television)....Please wise up community and do not always jump to conclusions when we all live in glass houses and not one of us wants a stone thrown....Just a thought!!!!

Farriah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blasianFMA said...

Logically, Whalum would be the very LAST person on the face of the earth to discriminate against gays, and many of us know why.

However, it is disturbing that he did nothing while his congregation partook in the barbaric modern day tar and feathering excommunication of two people who came as they were.

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